I live in Seattle, I used to live in Minneapolis, and I edit magazines in different states around the country so I visit a lot of newspaper websites. It's part of my job and part of my interest. And yesterday I saw the same headline in almost all of them.
About Iraq? Pakistan? About the March 4 showdown between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? No. It was about the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie.
Apparently it's a smash hit. That's what they all said. In fact, if you Google the entire headline in quotes, "New Indiana Jones trailer is smash hit," you'll get (as of this morning) over 58,000 hits. Smash or otherwise.
They all pulled the same AP story by Regina Robertson. About the viral spread of the trailer. About how it's doing well online. About how kids might not know from Indiana but that's the challenge because that's the demographic. The usual quotes from Paramount marketing execs and the Aintitcool.com dude. It was probably the biggest news story of the day.
I understand why it was big. It was about entertainment so it might appeal to kids but it was about an older dude so it might appeal to the newspaper's actual demographics. Classic analog hero in digital age clash. Who will win?
But here's what bugs me. Paramount estimates that the trailer was seen 200 million times in its first week? When are they going to get the actual figures? Paramount says the 4.1 million hits on the Yahoo movie site was a record? What does Yahoo say? Do they have a say? Do they want one? Or are they just waiting to be bought? Now that's a feeling we can all get behind.
It's not even PR journalism, it's TV Guide journalism, because the brunt of the story is less about what's been (the release of the trailer) than what's about to be (the release of the movie in May). It's all about anticipation and more and more that's what we focus on. Culturally we're a myopic country peering into the middle distance for any kind of good (or cool) news. Because the past is so five minutes ago and the present is unknown and uncomfortable. But that thing that's about to happen? That we can anticipate in this way? Hell, maybe that can pull us along a little bit and get us out of where we are. Maybe it's the old dude in the leather jacket who can finally save us. At least for two hours. In May.
Once he gets here, though, he's done. Because his not being here is exactly the point. Then we'll need a whole new headline.